Apr 10, 2022

I found a house! A sale and a purchase...

Hey Readers!  (Mom and Dad)

My Salem house, after MANY repairs and a new porch

I haven't written in a spell because my plans took a ride in a BMW convertible on a sunny day with the top down.  In other words, I found a house!  And I moved! At the end of February I closed on a house in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Oregon. It's a tiny town I'll call "Paradise" just in case I ever get a stalker (again).  

I "Zillow'd" the hell out of things looking for just the right place.  Well, more like I put in my search parameters of in Oregon, under $350k, half an acre, and less than 50k people. I was hit with very few houses...and most were awful.  I mean, so terrible that you'd have to actually install walls, flooring, sinks, etc. 

I initially passed by this house in Paradise...because it was literally in the middle of no where.  The idea of moving so far away from everyone and everything I know was just a little intimidating. And then, a few weeks later I went back and did my search again and the same house came up, but it was pending. Missed that boat. Oh well, that's what I get for stalling.

A few more weeks passed and I searched again...and the house in Paradise was back on the market. Apparently the potential buyer was a little older and her kids didn't want her out there alone. On a whim I called the realtor and after a few conversations, I made an offer.  Sight unseen. They accepted the offer and I had 10 days to view it...which I passed on.  I figured I'd get an inspection and frankly, I figured any house of that age would need some work, so I was prepared for whatever happened. 

I called a realtor to put my house on the market and before that even happened, I had a full price offer from the neighbor's friends. SOLD!  The stars aligned.  

It didn't hit me until I was in the U-Haul on the way to my new house (and praying it looked like the photos) that my entire life was changing. The whole time I was busy packing and loading my belongings I didn't think about what I was leaving behind. Instead I was thinking about what I was moving toward. I started to realize I wouldn't do happy hour with my friends anymore, couldn't pop into the office to greet co-workers, and was going to have to actually plan for trips to town (since it's an hour away). But none of that really mattered because once I pulled into the driveway, I felt at home. 

View from my front window in Paradise
I realized that this place, this Paradise, was exactly what I've wanted my entire life. I wanted to be out of the city, away from people, away from the crime and the grime, and the smog and the....again, the people. 

Friends ask if I have any regrets. The answer is a solid no. It hasn't been all smooth sailing (read the next post) but I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Jan 9, 2022

Where To Go?

 Now that I've convinced myself it's time to leave Salem, where do I go?  The better question becomes, "What can I afford?" Luckily, my job has transformed due to COVID from allowing us to telework up to three times a week to allowing us to do it full time. That's fantastic news for us introverts. Work has also opened up their restrictions and now, we can telework from anywhere in the US...with permission. I don't know of anyone who has received permission, but that's mute. Doesn't matter. I don't really want to leave Oregon yet (though Texas has crossed my mind, along with Georgia, Arkansas, and the Carolinas). 

Example of $250k houses I've seen
Being a single income household, and not making a fortune (think public service paycheck), my options are pretty limited. Oregon's prices have skyrocketed, along with a lot of other states. In order to get out of Salem, I'm thinking outside the box. I'm using the modern version of "close your eyes and touch a map" by opening Zillow and adjusting the search engine to note I want at least half an acre and I want to pay around $350k. Are you laughing yet? There was a time when $350k was a lot for a house in my mind. Now, I've come to the conclusion that to get something even remotely nice, I'd have to pay around $500k. If you've recently looked at houses in Oregon, you know that's the case. Trust me when I say I'm not THAT picky. I just want something that's not in town, doesn't need an entire remodel before I even step inside because it's too nasty, and where the dogs can roam. I'd also like an actual stick built instead of manufactured, which reduced a lot of options but makes it easier to finance and remodel. No way I'm paying $350 for a manufactured home on an acre that was installed in 1980. No way.

Zillow wasn't my friend. In fact, there were very limited choices. But I still looked at them all.  From ALL over Oregon. Then I branched out..and looked EVERYWHERE. Lots of beautiful places in Georgia for less than $350k, but I traveled through there one summer and it was way too hot for me...and once I found out how many snakes were there, I decided I'd leave Georgia to the Walking Dead. (For those of you who don't know, Walking Dead is filmed in Georgia.)

I'm still looking, but when I find something, you'll be the first to know!


The First Step

Sometimes changes happen slowly...until one day you actually pay attention and realize something is different. You look back and wonder things changed and more importantly, when. When I bought my house in West Salem it was around 2005. I'd walk the dog around the block and often notice home improvements being made, kids playing, dogs barking, and sometimes, people yelling. I didn't really like the city, so I moved away and rented out my house.  

Eventually my sister ended up in it, and then my brother-in-law took a job out of town. My tiny 624 square foot house was vacant so I moved back because renting it seemed like too much of a hassle. I hated moving back. But my plan was to fix it up, do my two years of living in it, then off it the first chance I had. I put all my efforts into fixing up the house until eventually, Adam pointed out there wasn't much more for me to do. He may have just been tired of helping me. 

In the almost three years it took for me to reach my house's maximum remodel stage (I joke that I have a house I put $600k into that's worth $300k), the city around began to change too. Covid hit, and with it, came less police oversight...instead of seeing a police car drive past occasionally, it was a rarity. I know, it's not their fault that other neighborhoods needed them more. But the crime, it increased. Someone actually took the liberty of opening my car and going through it...and when I caught them at around 1:00 am, gun in hand, they yelled at me that I shouldn't have left it unlocked.  As if leaving something unlocked (by accident clearly) is akin to saying, "Come get it!  Everybody is welcome!"  The guy, unbothered by the fact that I held a weapon, took his time walking away. I had to tell him a few times to get out of the vehicle. Seriously. Who does that? It's someone who doesn't care about the consequences (or knows there aren't any) and who has no concern for anyone other than themselves. 

I started carrying a gun while walking the dogs in the morning because I never know who I'd run into. (Don't worry, I'm fully permitted in case I have any snowflakes reading.) Once a safe and quiet neighborhood, West Salem has turned into a place where the terrorist middle schoolers run the streets along with the homeless. We, the tax paying citizens, can do nothing about it unless we are actually threatened. I can tell you, at that point, it will be too late for them and maybe me.

Basically, this part of Oregon has lost its luster. The riots, protesting, COVID rules, and everything else, has made Salem undesirable to me. It's time to move on. The journey begins. I'm taking the first step. 

Dec 16, 2021

Where have I been??  It's been so long since I've written, despite the fact that life has continued to move forward and I have moved froward with it. Begrudgingly. Quick update.

BG, the 120 # Alaskan Malamute
After Trout left to chase tennis ball at the Rainbow Bridge, I fostered Apple from the Great Pyrenees Rescue Society Apple jointed BG (Bulgera), the Giant Alaskan Malamute that I adopted from my sister. It was in my mind that BG was so sad and lonely once Trout was gone. Fostering would give him a friend but not bring a permanent dog into our lives. I was done with permanent dogs. It's just too damn painful when they leave. Fostering was an epic fail and after three days Apple was renamed Merrick and became a permanent part of our family. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, BG developed cancer in his front leg and his health declined quickly. It was such a shame, having lost Trout only five months earlier, BG became my rock. And then he became a memory. But, Merrick was there, and she spread her fluffy white hair all over the house just like BG did. And, of course, shortly thereafter, Merrick looked sad because she was alone...so I went back to the GPRS and they found me the perfect dog named Virgil (who later was renamed to Bass). 

Merrick in front and Bass at the top

Merrick is now almost five years old (she was 3.5 when I adopted her) and Bass is a little over one year old. Both make sure I have a constant supply of white hair all over the house, so really, it's like BG never left. Both Merrick and Bass are perfect...though if you promise not to tell Merrick, I have a softer spot in my heart for Bass. He is so sweet and kind (and he SMILES), whereas Merrick is a complete diva. And in part, maybe I feel like I have to protect Bass from Merrick because she can be a real brute to him. Merrick is my shadow and follows me from room to room, sleeps by my bed (or in it), and always makes sure that if I so much as sneeze, she's right there should I need anything at all. She's a lot like Trout in that way but Merrick not only loves me but everyone else. Both Merrick and Bass are really people lovers. They don't care who you are, they love you. They haven't met you? They still love you! It's like I have these two great dogs who have so much love to give that they have to find other people who need love too so they can share it. I don't mind at all. 

When we go on a walk Bass always sits and waits for people to come over to him...he gets so hurt when they just continue on their walks and don't stop to greet him. Bass actually has his favorite buddies in the neighborhood and when we pass their houses, he dilly dallies waiting for them to come outside and say hello. When he sees them, it makes his whole day! Now that you're caught up, I hear Bass in the kitchen pushing his dog bowl around like he hasn't eaten in years...so I'm off to do my parental work. 

Mar 3, 2021

The End and A Different Beginning....

June 20, 2020: Time flies.  Fast. I remember when I first adopted Trout. She was a tiny little fluffy faced ball of chocolate kisses.  I would walk her and wait patiently as she stopped to explore every blade of grass, to greet every bug, to offer a wag to every person who passed. Now we're twelve years on and I watch her sleep, her body pulsating with every breath, her legs twitching, and sometimes, running. Her head slightly moves as I adjust on the couch. She is vigilant to my every move and I to hers. These days, I don't jump out of bed at night when I hear her cough or stretch because I'm worried she'll eat the remote but instead, it is because I know her days are numbered. Each day that passes is another closer to the end. Closer to a time when I will walk alone. And I can't stand the thought of her taking it without me by her side.

I tell Trout to let go, but in my heart I hope she holds on forever. I kiss her head, smooth my hands down her snout and look into her eyes, now cloudy like an early winter day. I whisper, "I love you" because more than anything in this world, I do.  More than anything.

That is why I know I must let her go. The final act of my love for her is for me to just let her go. To kiss her that last goodbye and to send her off to the heavens, the rainbow bridge, beach, or wherever dogs wander off to for eternity. But then what?

Then I start a different life. Not better by any means. Just different. With different priorities and different dreams. 

                                                                March 3, 2021: 

I wrote that almost a year ago, and Trout, my lovely chocolate lab, my best friend, my baby, has now been gone since August 2020.  In the end, it wasn't old age but bone cancer that took her from me.  She held on to the bitter end.  Hot Doc (our vet) said I'd know when it was time...and she would tell me.  She would stop following me around...but she never did. Everywhere I went she'd trudge along, just longing to be by my side. People always ask, "When do you know it's time?" In fact, I asked that over over again. "You just do" is often a response. For me, I knew it was time when it hurt my heart more to know that she was likely suffering than it did to let her go. Don't make the mistake in thinking that means it was easy to let her go. It wasn't. It hasn't been. It still isn't. That last day haunts my memories. I've thought of it over and over, wondering if I didn't wait too long, or if I did it too soon. I just know that my personal pain and grief is much easier to bear than the thought of Trout in pain. 

So she's gone...and a few short months later I also lost her best friend, our adopted boy, BG, to bone cancer. It's a simple fact, big dogs get it. But oh, why mine and why so close together! BG helped me so much after Trout was gone. Helped me to realize that there was still beauty, and that hole in my heart would eventually heal. He took that hole and filled it with Giant Alaskan Malamute hair and slobbery kisses.

There's still a hole in my heart, and a certain emptiness that wasn't there before, but, I've filled that hole with other things to hide the numbness and help me move forward. I've rescued a couple Great Pyrenees who are the most adorable dogs. They make me laugh, smile, frown, and even make me angry. At times, they make me wonder why I bothered to do it all again.  I think the reason is, despite everything, I didn't want to give up on dogs. I wanted to make a difference, even if it's just in a few white fluffy dogs' lives...and I've done that already. So join me now as I move not on, but forward, past what was and toward what will is and will be. And love your pups. Hold them tight. Kiss them goodnight. And be the person your dog thinks you are.  

Nov 27, 2018

So I Moved...5 Reasons Neighborhoods Suck

home sweet tiny home
Newsflash: Living in the country is SO much better than living in the city. 

Now, I'm not just saying that because I'm anti-social and I hate people.  Really. Ok, maybe I AM. But, so far, my experience after moving back to my rental house has not been great. First and foremost, I downgraded from 50 acres in the country with my closest neighbor about 1/2 mile away to looking out my back window and seeing five houses within spitting distance. And I'm not even a good spitter. 

So, in less than a month I've come up with my very own list of 5 Reasons Neighborhoods Suck

5. You know what happens when you put a naturally paranoid gal in a house and surround her with neighbors, screaming kids, barking dogs and cats that prowl the night? Crazy happens. I've got surveillance cameras and trail cams hidden in various spots on my property.  I've got more chains around my RV, Quad and utility trailer than a prison work crew has. I've got guns stored away under tables, bedframes, and behind photographs. I'll be ready when trouble comes a-knockin.

Those damn thieves and killers are not getting away with my stuff.

4. Speaking of cats...I used to feed the feral cats at my place. It seemed innocent enough. I didn't like it, but it was my rural duty. Now I'm surrounded by cats of all colors, breeds, and gender.  And I'm not even being racist, homophobic, or critical when I say it sucks huge piles of cat pooh. When I walk out of my house in the morning it's like I've stepped into a world where people are the minority and cats are king. Cats are sitting in driveways, under cars, near street lights, watching my every move. I can't tell if they're interested in what I'm doing or they are just waiting for the right moment to pounce. Cats are the Devil's dogs, I tell you. 

5. I have no room for anything. Not inside, not outside. I never really appreciated the fact that I could have a 14-foot pool, 2 kayaks, a pontoon fishing boat, a golf net, room to ride the quad, storage for years of crap, enough room for a RV and three cars...until now. Now I barely have room for the pool, which is a priority, given the fact that my chocolate lab, Trout, will NEVER give me a moments rest unless she can swim at will this summer.  And, I've had to donate so much stuff to Goodwill, I think they should just do random drivebys and save me the gas money.  Oh, I could burn the stuff...but now I seem to be missing my burn pile area.  Thank you, city life. 

3.  I have to be social. My neighbors stop by. Like we're pals. You know how hard it was to become a hermit? Now I'm forced to socialize.  Someone actually left a loaf of bread on my doorstep the other day. Either they thought I needed the carbs or they mistook my house for the local misfit residence and figured with all the crap piled in the driveway I needed all the help I could get. 

2.  It's loud here. The dog and I hear everything. The mailman's coming....I know this when he's five doors down because suddenly Trout the Lab jumps up and starts barking like we're being invaded by Russia. Oh, the neighbor down the street just slammed his car door! Yeah! I hate to say it, but now I know why people are nosy...it's not on purpose. It’s just that you hear absolutely everything that happens and it sounds like it's happening on your front door step, so naturally you look.

1. Neighbors suck. I have a 78-year-old neighbor behind my house who is lonely and sad. Her husband died and apparently, he was the alcohol monitor. She drinks and drinks. By the time I get home at 330 pm she's loaded and ready to scrap. The other day she yelled that I was a Nasty Bitch. Seriously.  Little ol' innocent me.  Ok, granted, it didn't help that I told her to leave me the F*ck alone and I did not want to talk to her every time I went outside. But in my defense, I should not have to talk to her EVERY TIME I walk outside and then spend 30 minutes justifying why I'm not a terrible person because she thinks I stole my sister's dog and kicked my sister out of my rental. I mean, geez, isn't it bad enough I actually have to RAKE leaves now because I'm surrounded by fences and the wind can't adequately do its job? And guess what? There's so much stuff that needs done around this house, it's like I'm living in a home with a slum landlord.  Well, crap. I've apparently got work to do. 

Sep 18, 2018

Springfield, MO Day 4, Pappy's Place September 17, 2018

Pappy's Place BBQ was recommended to me by my hosts at the B&B so before I left town I stopped by to see if the fuss had any merit.

Pappy's is a tiny little bar that sells BBQ. It's apparently well known for it's pulled pork sandwich, so I ordered that from a man behind the bar that turned out to be friendly despite his initial look up and down of me. (I'm pretty sure in his mind he was asking what the heck I was doing there and why the hell I needed any more food since I've gained about 50# since being in Missouri. Shut up.)

Food came out fast. Lightening fast. So fast it made me think their microwave must have already been loaded. While sitting at the bar, I opened the wrapper to find a pale pulled pork sandwich that was already sporting a soggy bun.  No way this was gonna make it into my belly.  I took a few finger pinches of it to taste and just as I imagined, it wasn't all that great.

I'm not sure what meat this is...could be coon. 

I paid the man, grabbed a jar of BBQ sauce to go (just in case), and headed to my car...where I ate some more of my Buckingham's BBQ.  I'm normally a "small, out of the way, dive joint" kinda gal, but this place should be reserved for drinking mixed drinks from a dirty glass when you've just been dumped by the love of your life or when your dog gets ran over by the UPS man. It happens.

Not a fan.

I found a house! A sale and a purchase...

Hey Readers!  (Mom and Dad) My Salem house, after MANY repairs and a new porch I haven't written in a spell because my plans took a ride...